Diego Maradona once told Pope John Paul II to sell the gold ceilings at the Vatican if he wanted to help the poor

Scott Davis
diego maradona 2020
Diego Maradona in 2000. Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images
  • The soccer legend Diego Maradona once criticized Pope John Paul II for the Vatican's gold ceilings.

  • Maradona, who died at the age of 60 on Wednesday, said the pope should "sell" the ceilings if he was concerned with helping poor people.

  • Maradona, who called himself the voice of the people, said his faith was restored after meeting Pope Francis.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona once said he had distanced himself from the Catholic church after growing disenchanted with Pope John Paul II.

Maradona, who died of cardiac arrest at age 60 on Wednesday, visited the Vatican in 2000. According to reports at the time, Maradona grew upset when he believed he didn't receive a special rosary from the pope.

Later, he told reporters he was disgusted with the gold ceilings at the Vatican, saying the pope should "sell" them if he wanted to help the poor.

"I've been to the Vatican and seen the gold ceilings. And then I hear the pope saying that the church was concerned about poor kids. So? Sell the ceilings, mate!" Maradona was quoted by The Independent in 2005 as saying.

Maradona visited Pope Francis in 2016 for a charity soccer match and relayed a similar message to reporters.

"I went into the Vatican and saw that golden roof," Maradona said of his 2000 visit, according to El País. "And I said to myself how could somebody be such a son of b---- as to live with a golden roof and then go to poor countries and kiss children with a full belly? I stopped believing."

In 2014, Maradona also received criticism for calling Pope John Paul II a "son of a whore," according to the Australian soccer outlet The World Game.

Upon visiting Pope Francis — a fellow Argentine — however, Maradona said his faith had been restored.

"I had drifted away from the church, but Francisco brought me back," he told reporters, according to El País.

Maradona had called himself "the voice of the voiceless" and a "representative" of the people. According to The Independent's Paul Newman, Maradona was generous with money to a fault, frequently paying for his entourages.

Argentina is expected to hold three days of mourning for his death.

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